Briefing Book

Southern Climate Solutions Briefing Book



NCEL Point of Contact

Southern Climate Solutions Briefing Book



This briefing book seeks to provide a pool of successful climate and clean energy policies in states across the South and beyond for state legislators to reference as they are looking forward to next sessions.


The Southern United States is uniquely positioned in the climate conversation. The clean energy transition promises the region abundant economic benefits, since the South is well-suited for offshore wind and has ample opportunity for solar. Harnessing the benefits of the clean energy transition and addressing climate change is urgent, as the region is already experiencing major climate impacts, including coastal destruction, extreme heat, lengthened and worsened hurricane seasons, and more. 

As this briefing book details, states in the South are beginning to implement laws that promote cheaper, cleaner energy and address climate change. To keep this momentum progressing, Southern states can learn from previous successes within their region and from states with similar political contexts. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when tactics have already proven effective in neighboring or similar states. This briefing book seeks to provide a pool of successful climate and clean energy policies in states across the South and beyond for state legislators to reference as they are looking forward to next sessions. It was developed by NCEL staff, who surveyed policies across the South and states in similar political and economic contexts for best practices and examples. Partner organizations in the South provided feedback and recommendations as well. We want to thank colleagues at Climate Cabinet Education, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, and Green For All for their feedback and recommendations as well.

Contents of this Briefing Book

We cover nature-based solutions, transportation, a just transition and workforce support, buildings, grid regionalization and utility regulation, clean energy, and adaptation and coastal resilience. Each section includes a description of the policy, sample legislation from Southern states and others, and resources. We include a detailed analysis of a key piece of omnibus legislation, the South Carolina Energy Freedom Act.

Climate Solutions for Southern States

Southern states are creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the clean energy and clean transportation sectors. Residents are seeing the co- benefits of climate action, including lower energy bills, better air quality, and a higher quality of life. Increasing extreme weather demands the most ambitious actions from all of us, but climate policy is never a one-size-fits all solution. Solutions in the South need to cater to its specific political, economic, and cultural contexts. This briefing book provides a reference point for state legislators in the region of what’s worked well so far. We hope it is just the beginning.


NCEL Resources

Online Resources

Nature-Based Climate Solutions - NCEL

NCEL's webpage on nature-based climate solutions with relevant information and policy options.

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The Changing Coast - Southern Environmental Law Center

Interactive map showing how rising seas and a changing climate are reshaping the Southern coast.

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Electric Transportation Toolkit - Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

This toolkit simplifies the process for decision-makers to identify cost-effective, sustainable, and equitable solutions and successful strategies to accelerate electric transportation.

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State Guides to Utility Energy Efficiency Planning - Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance

Aims to provide the essential energy efficiency policy information for each of SEEA’s eleven states across the Southeast.

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Solar United Neighborhoods

Use this webpage to learn about solar policies in your community and across the country.

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Resources for State Legislators - USGBC

This document lists the top resources for state legislators as they relate to energy efficient and low carbon buildings.

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